WINCHESTER — “My brothers, my sisters, my friends — it’s time.”

The Rev. Kevin Wilson of Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church of Winchester spoke with passion on Friday morning as he addressed about 500 people who gathered on the Loudoun Street Mall to protest police brutality.

It was the second time this week that people assembled downtown to peacefully protest the killing of George Floyd, who died while he was being restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25. The city’s first protest took place on Sunday evening, and a third was planned for Friday afternoon.

“We want to influence policy and change with our voices,” said Tina Stevens-Culbreath, whose nonprofit I’m Just Me Movement obtained permits allowing Friday’s protests to happen.

Prior to Friday morning’s march, protest organizers stood on the steps of the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum to welcome everyone and thank them for standing up for justice.

“This is not the revolution of our parents,” said the Rev. Gilbert M. Mack Jr. of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Winchester. “This revolution will be televised.”

The irony of a museum with a Confederate statue hosting a protest tied to the Black Lives Matter movement did not go unnoticed, nor did the placement of a memorial to Floyd at the base of the statue.

Stevens-Culbreath said Friday’s gathering was not about reopening old wounds, but rather healing the community and bringing everyone together. For that reason, the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum offered its space for the protest, and even provided 2,000 bottles of water for the people standing in the sun.

A profound sense of unity prevailed throughout the demonstration, which Winchester Police Chief John Piper said went off without a hitch. As protesters of all ethnic backgrounds marched through Winchester, they passed numerous cases of water that had been left out for them by downtown businesses and homeowners.

Walking north on Cameron Street, the procession paused in front of Rouss City Hall, where Mayor David Smith offered a few words of encouragement.

“Let’s stay peaceful,” said Smith, who is Winchester’s first black mayor. “God bless everyone.”

Floyd’s death has sparked protests around the world, some turning violent.

Friday’s first protest was a silent march, so the participants said nothing as they walked and waved signs. People who wanted to chant as they marched were encouraged to attend the afternoon gathering.

When the protesters finished marching Friday morning, they again assembled in front of the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum. Haley Arnold, an organizer of the event, asked everyone to kneel for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the same amount of time that Floyd was pinned to the ground. Just then, a church bell chimed 12 times to let everyone know it was noon, which was followed by a prolonged and intense silence.

Afterwards, Wilson asked everyone to reflect on the significance of kneeling for such an extended period of time.

“Imagine your brother with a knee on his neck for over eight minutes,” he said. “That’s a reason for rage.”

“This is a great America, and I’m part of that great America,” protester Wilhelmina Booker, of Winchester, said as she encouraged everyone to work together and move beyond centuries of racial prejudice. “We’ve been fighting this battle for 400 years. It takes all of us.”

“My daughter’s grandpa is a person of color,” added Shenoa Parker, of Winchester. “I had to explain to her why grandpa’s crying.”

“I encourage you to stay involved and vote,” protester John Copenhaver said as he stood near a voter registration table that had been set up in front of the museum.

Near the end of the morning protest, Stevens-Culbreath became overwhelmed with emotion and started sobbing. She was instantly surrounded by supporters of all races, comforting her and using their signs to shade her from the hot sun.

“We have to do it together,” Wilson told the crowd. “Whether you feel it right now or not, a shift is about to happen.”

On Friday evening, more than a dozen people spoke before about 500 people marched from the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum around downtown. Roughly 30 more spoke afterward. Speakers included clergy members as well as local, state and congressional representatives and community and area residents. They said Floyd’s death and the violent treatment of protesters by police at demonstrations nationwide illustrated the need for reform of police.

Danee Simmons, a black woman who recently earned her degree in criminal justice at Shenandoah University, challenged police to spend more interacting with the people they are sworn to protect.

“It’s harder to put your knee on somebody’s neck when you shook their hand,” she said. “Find out what you need to do to help them. Because until you do, the (expletive) is going to keep on happening.”

See Monday’s Winchester Star for more coverage of Friday evening’s protest.

Reporter Evan Goodenow contributed to this article.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

(47) comments

Conservative

I urge folks to look at this site and read up. Our Founding Fathers did not intend our country to turn the way it has turned. https://www.agendadocumentary.com/

slowe

right wing propaganda. dismissed....

Conservative

Typical response from someone who hates God and morality.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Is morality only guided by God?

And by "God" are you referring only to the Christian god?

Doc Samson

Except it is true. Your inability to dispute factual evidence and dismiss it shows your (and the rest of the Leftists) close mindedness and just reinforces the message of the film. Thanks!

Cleo

It's almost like some on here are afraid people will vote this November 3, 2020.

Same stench, Same suspects, Different day.

Gary

After reading the comments on this, I see who watches the REAL news and the Fascist propaganda network. Is ignorance bliss?

VA2NCandBack

Belief in Jesus Christ and then intentionally walking in His teaching is the most effective way there is to love one another no matter a person's skin color.

slowe

Why would it work now, since it as never worked: remember: ALL of the slave ships were from Christian countries and many had Christian chaplains aboard! All of the slave traders and slave masters were Christians. All of the Jim Crow segregationists were Christians. Christianity has not been good to the enslaved Africans and their descendants in America. Racism and Christianity have a long sordid history. Its track record is not good.

Whistle Dixie

You are so very confused, slowe (love that fitting profile name, though). In Africa, slaves were put into the slave trade through several different means: punishment by tribal chiefs/kings, domestic slaves that were resold, free Africans were captured during raids by African and European gangs, and also prisoners of war. Blacks were captured by black Africans (I know this doesn't fit your narrative.) Blacks were transported by a variety of ship captains, including Pirates from many countries. ***You may be getting confused with the white Christians who were captured and sold into the Barbary slave trade. Or maybe you have forgotten, or don't know about, the large numbers of white European Christians who were captured and enslaved in the Viking era. Then there were all of the Europeans captured by Muslims during the Arab slave trade period. Slavery comes in all colors, and slave captures occurred in many countries, you see. Understanding the history of slavery is a huge topic, and much too diverse to make generalized, statements.

Doc Samson

@ShawFamily - You will quickly notice that provable facts are dismissed out of hand by the Leftists as "propaganda", racist, or worst of all... originating from Fox News! They rarely, if ever, engage in actual dialogue because that would require "thought" or consideration of a different viewpoint...

Whistle Dixie

Doc Samson, Who needs to read that book "Arguing With Idiots" when it's all covered here? Everything needed to know about attempting to debate or converse with a Leftist can be found in these comments. Typical responses and typical attempts day after day to sully this online paper with ridicule are made to try and silence area residents. The people I know from this region are not well represented by the trolls who frequent here.

Doc Samson

[thumbup]

Whistle Dixie

slowe wrote, "Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international human rights movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. " BLM began in 2013 with a Twitter hashtag after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the Trayvon Martin killing. Radical Left activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi crafted the slogan and hashtag. After the Michael Brown shooting in August 2014, Dream Defenders, an organization led by Working Families Party (ACORN) activist and Occupy Wall Street anarchist Nelini Stamp came up with the “Hands Up–Don’t Shoot!” BLM slogan. +++ Garza, Cullors and Tometi all work for socialist/communist front groups of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), one of the four largest radical Left organizations in the country. The other groups are the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). Learn your history and stop relying on Wikipedia which is fraught with content manipulation.

Bryan.the.Nuri

and...?

Journey2goremtns1

Black Lives Matter = Domestic Terrorist just like ANTIFA!

Whistle Dixie

Very true, but 99.9% of Americans are clueless as to the intent behind BLM. One of the originators of BLM, Alicia Garza, is a radical Leftist racist. People who believe ALL lives matter are stopped cold with her words: "Stand with us in affirming Black lives.. Not just all lives. Black lives. Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too. It does, but we need less watered down unity and a more active solidarities [sic] with us, Black people, unwaveringly, in defense of our humanity. The tired trope that we are all the same, serves only to perpetuate a level of White supremacist domination.” <--- and THIS BLM agitator and co-creator is what Americans are aligning with??? (Everyone needs to research BLM before following along like sheep. And don't DARE say "All lives matter" lest you earn that label of being a white supremicistl!)

Bryan.the.Nuri

really? domestic terrorists or just offensive to people like you?

Whistle Dixie

Violence and property destruction is unlawful, Bryan. It matters not WHO or what ideology those actions come from. But to sit back and watch ignorant people blindly follow along with the BLM ideology is something that many people will not remain silent on. But you keep it up....your ideology is proving to all who read here that you are not someone worthy of an elected position here in Frederick County. True colors...

Bryan.the.Nuri

So your whole take on the events nationally is summed up like this: I'm sorry another black man was killed by a police officer, but can we please stop the looting and riots? If so, we can see where your real emphasis is.

Sorry that being forward thinking and progressive was offensive to you. Some people in this area are tired of regressive and passive thinking. Unlike you and so many others on here, I will own my words. You hide to protect your "reputation".

Whistle Dixie

Bryan Nuri, you don't get to speak for me although it's your "progressive" ideology that has seemingly entitled you to think so.

Personally, I believe that the police who MURDERED Floyd must be held accountable through our Court system. No one should be murdered because they committed a crime, or were perceived by a policeman to be committing a crime. Despite Floyd's chronic drug problems and previous criminal history, Floyd did not deserve to be held down as he was. Watching the video showed a cop that appeared to be standing atop his 'trophy.' There is no place for this mindset or vigilante violence in America.

That said, violence does not beget violence. That is rational, logical thinking, coming from the belief (and our Founding documents, and other legislation) that America is a Nation that operates under our Rules of Law and our enumerated Rights.

"Progressive" ideology is NOT 'forward thinking' as you want others to believe, Bryan. Even in your displays on this one article, you have brought nothing to the comments other than snark and arrogant condescension. The "Progressive" mode of thinking has demonstrated time and time again that Free Speech, a right guaranteed under the First Amendment, must be either suppressed or controlled. Progressives don't get to tell everyone else what to say or believe. The "Progressive" mode of thinking also demonstrates that the "CoeXiSt" crowd does NOT coexist with others at all. In fact,e Progressives (aka Socialist-Democrats/Communists) have zero tolerance for anyone outside of their warped group-think. This is typical of how Socialists and Communists behave: control and censor anyone who is not part of their ideology; bully, and if necessary, use violence to control those who do not agree with them. This is where BLM and Antifa are.

Bryan.the.Nuri

ShawFamily (the whole family?!!?) What is the priority in your stance on this? We have called out the rioters. However, property is replaceable, not lives.

This movement has never been about replacing you as a majority. It is about calling out inequity and demanding accountability. Do you have a problem with "those people" wanting more than you are comfortable with them having?

Whistle Dixie

Bryan Nuri,

Who is "we"?

Your belief that destroyed property can be replaced is PRECISELY what is wrong with your ideology. First, property that has been damaged, destroyed, or stolen in these riots falls on the property owners, insurance businesses, and taxpayers. It ain't a "free lunch", as you Progressive-Socialists believe.

Like the vast majority of Americans believe, EQUALITY is what America strives to be about. Equality is in our legislation, and when equality does not measure up, there are MANY various avenues that can be taken to ensure that people have the same rights. Riots are NOT the solution.

We are all created equal by God. However, we are not all TREATED equal, are we? How many people who have had injustices done to them go riot in the cities? How many of those people murder policemen?

Why are you and your Progressive comrades not protesting against the MURDER of the St. Louis retired police Captain? What have all of you done to try and end the Black-on-Black murders in every Democrat city across America? Those issues are very uncomfortable, but they are factual, with comprehensive data to prove these problems exist. But those issues simply don't fit the hate-America narrative, do they Bryan?

Everywhere we turn now, we are being bombarded with messages, rants, and slogans on "racial equality."

You do realize that "racial equality" is an oxymoron, similar to "deafening silence", right? If Blacks want racial equality, then RACE should not be used as a defining adjective or a qualifier. Too many Blacks have reverted back to intentional separatism and strong racial identity. (The phrase "white privilege" epitomizes this.) Doing this separates Blacks into being an intolerant group that is viewed by all other races as being non-inclusive. Our Black friends all agree -- they want nothing to do with this new movement -- many cite the Black Panther ideology as being behind much of this. They're not far off.

EQUALITY is the goal to strive for.

This movement has never been about replacing you as a majority. It is about calling out inequity and demanding accountability. Do you have a problem with "those people" wanting more than you are comfortable with them having?

Ken Kovach

Antifa, or ANTI-FAscist are on the right side of history. Fascists are the conservative flag waving extremists that, like Germany and Italy in the 30’s, try to suppress equality. The only ones that needs to fear Antifa are fascists.

Bernie Mac

Hey genius, calling yourself anti-fascist does NOT make you anti-fascist.

Doc Samson

For the Left, it's all about the superficial virtue signaling. Look at me! Look at me! I'm the biggest victim! I hate (fill in any conservative value/organization) more than literally anyone! KK and the rest are like kids with free reign of the candy store. Eating healthy takes discipline and knowledge and who wants that when the MSM is serving up free sugar?

Bryan.the.Nuri

Ironic that you said that on June 6, the anniversary of a huge Antifa rally in France...

Bryan.the.Nuri

@Doc Samson, you're still irrelevant to the conversation.

Walk away

Whistle Dixie

Residents of this region need to get educated on BLM -- it's a well-funded communist/socialist organization that is designed to use race as the means to agitate against America. By design, organizers of BLM activities always use some current event to push their communist beliefs forward. Those following along with BLM are being manipulated and lied to because the 'ends justify the means.' Props in downtown Winchester were INTENTIONAL. Look for physical destruction, as BLM and other communist agitators seek to destroy America and truth. American history should not be erased and redefined, yet it is happening now.

slowe

Au Contaire, it is the ShawFamily who need some education: Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international human rights movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.

slowe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter

Whistle Dixie

Wikipedia is your "go to" ? Don't make me laugh. Wikipedia has little credibillity. It's a well-known Leftist online source, fraught with controlled/manipulated contributions. Better luck next time.

Bryan.the.Nuri

He probably referenced that because it is easy for you to find. Don't tell us that just now you are concerned with certified sources...

Doc Samson

@ShawFamily - Nice to see another poster who is willing to pull back the curtain and deal with reality! Welcome!

Bryan.the.Nuri

define communism and/or socialism and apply it to the BLM movement.

We'll wait.

slowe

Oh the irony of this protest in the shadow of the statue of the Confederate Soldier honoring the battle to preserve and prolonged slavery. He who was willing to kill and die to preserve the economic system founded on enslaving 4 million captured AfrIcans by our white Christian ancestors. That statue must go. It must be removed or at least moved into the museum as a relic of the Lost Cause, of Jim Crow and a monument to the errors of our Southern ancestors. TAke it down. At least it should be draped in black, the shameful thing that it is.

Bernie Mac

Too bad the Democrats cannot erase their history of slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow and segregation. That stain is not so easily removed.

rjm24

Ask any current KKK member if they’re a Democrat and I bet you’ll be surprised. The rest of us won’t be. There’s a reason David Duke endorsed Trump in 2016. And if you’re really that ignorant you don’t know US history and how the old segregationists moved to the Republican Party, then read a book or two.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Please explain how Strom Thrumond would be in the same caucus as Barack Obama

Bernie Mac

Will Robert Byrd and George Wallace be there?

BillboBaggins

Steve, I thought you knew by now that republicans don’t believe or care about an issue until it effects them personally and then they play the victim.

rjm24

But I heard on Facebook that Antifa was bussing in looters that would attack Old Town and also shut down roads. Come to think of it, that rumor has been spread all over small town America. It’s almost like...it’s a tactic to rile up the rednecks so they can feel like victims and threaten to shoot people.

rjm24

Exhibit A:

https://www.businessinsider.com/false-claims-of-antifa-protesters-plague-small-us-cities-2020-6

Bernie Mac

Business Insider is a lying, untrustworthy, Trump-hating propaganda rag. Only Democrats believe their nonsense. Reading Business Insider will make you stupid.

rjm24

I have a feeling that will be your response to any article that’s not from Breitbart, Fox News, or Infowars. So go to Google and search ‘antifa rumors protest’ to find articles from a lot of news organizations that say the same thing. Oh and my original point still stands. Rumors meant to rile up locals. Even the local police posted on FB that it was all a rumor.

Ali

No, Bernie Mac is an Alex Jones/Q Anon man. His tin foil hats come in only one color.

Bryan.the.Nuri

Every thing is a "Trump-hating propaganda rag" when they print facts or even criticism of the President, huh?

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